Shotgun Shooting: The “Analysis Paralysis” Miss

Thinking when you should be shooting can undermine practiced skills and prevent you from breaking from Windigo Images

I’m indebted to my friend John Thomas for this lesson. John is a retiree who teaches rich people how to shoot a shotgun. We were talking about a client of his who couldn’t hit a crossing target.

“His problem,” said John, “is he thinks about it. It’s a clear case of analysis paralysis.”

Truer words were never spoken. If you want to miss with a shotgun, or a rifle in most cases, just think about what you’re doing. The Field & Stream columnist Gene Hill used to say that the ideal trapshooter would be a gorilla who knew how to handle a gun; he’d be too dumb to analyze, and recoil wouldn’t bother him.

Here’s a classic case of a miss caused by analysis paralysis: I’ve been shooting in a summer trap league, and when I shoot from Station 5, I stand almost square to the target to give myself a better swing at the hard right angle bird. As I called for the bird during one shoot, I realized that my feet were in the wrong position, and was thinking about that instead of thinking about nothing. Did I miss? Is a pig’s butt pork? I felt a little better because one of the shooters on the squad completely lost track of what he was doing, thought we had finished, and racked his gun—until we called his attention to it.

A couple of other things: Can rich people shoot, you ask? By and large, no. Can John Thomas shoot? Oh boy.